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A Discussion on Diversity and Inclusion in Library and Information Environments Recap

  • 1.  A Discussion on Diversity and Inclusion in Library and Information Environments Recap

    Posted 10-23-2019 15:21
    Thank you to Victoria North for writing the following review of SLA-NY's event on Diversity and Inclusion in Library and Information Environments.
    The three panelists and Chair, at the NY Chapter's professional development event last Thursday, had much personal experience to draw on when answering a series of questions about diversity and inclusion in library and information workplaces. We learnt how seemingly well intentioned enquiries such as 'where do you really come from' asked of a New York born colleague, are actually offensive. We learnt how architects still fail to take into consideration the access needs of all employees and don't include simple design features such as doors which open outwards. We heard that it is still not uncommon for women to struggle to get across their ideas in meetings dominated by white, older men and worse still for the same white men to pass off the ideas of female colleagues as their own.

    Lack of diversity in the workplace is detrimental to the success of an organization. Employees of diverse ethnic origin, sexual orientation or physical ability who do not feel comfortable in their workplace, experience stress and become less productive. One panelist described how she used a different entrance to her building to avoid a certain individual who made her feel uncomfortable.

    Increasingly employers are now recognizing the benefits of a diverse workforce. Diversity nurtures creativity. Increasingly clients of professional service firms expect to work with diverse teams.

    Training plays an important role in developing an inclusive workforce but there is still room for development in this area for many organizations. One attendee asked the panel how they could encourage those who would most benefit from such training to attend. Taking the initiative and inviting colleagues to attend with you was a suggestion. A discussion on the type of training some organizations offer highlighted the irony of using online modules to educate people on interacting with others.

    As information professionals we have a responsibility to build more diverse teams. Attendees were encouraged to explore a wider range of forums to advertise positions. ALA as has an ethnic caucus which will advertise jobs. Mentoring programs can help retain employees as can simple kindness.

    Feedback from attendees was very positive. We were all very grateful to the panelists for their candor in describing their personal experiences. We all left the event a little wiser.

    Thanks to our three speakers:
    • Michael Miller, Chief Librarian, Bronx Community College, CUNY
    • Emma Antobam-ntekudzi, Reference & Instruction Librarian, Bronx Community College, CUNY
    • Hildy Dworkin, Library Director at NYC Human Resources Administration/Dept. of Social Services
    and to our Panel Chair and joint event organizer
    • Flordalisa Lopez-Terrones, Electronic Resource Analyst, Skadden

    Thank you also to Daniel Hickey, Librarian for Business & Economics at New York University who very kindly hosted the event at Bobst Library, NYU.

    Christine Pelosi
    Information Specialist | 4A's